Bharadwaj is an Information Technology professional with more
than 16 years of experience in the industry with experience in diverse
platforms. He works for Microsoft in Seattle. He will be writing a two
part series on User Interface and Cloud Computing. We at Cloud Avenue
may or may not share his views but we always encourage alternate
viewpoints in our quest to explore the cloud computing terrain. Here is the second part of the series. In my Part 1 of
the series, I talked about the various web technologies and the
evolution of the user interface on the web. In this post, I’m going to
talk about two technologies, Silverlight and HTML 5, which I think are
going to improve that user interface. I had very constructive
discussions on this topic with other members of the CloudAve team
offline. Some of the statements in this post borrows from those
discussions as well.
will bring more users to cloud computing. The word “rich” means two
things: rich in color and graphics (like the Aero interface in Windows Vista), and rich in functionality (having multiple UI elements and controls).
great functionality. Silverlight 1.0 was released to enable integration
of video and audio in to the web applications. Upcoming release
of Silverlight 2.0 builds on that foundation, and also brings a major
subset of .NET framework controls and their functionality to the web.
This release includes all the common controls a developer is familiar
with, like Textbox, Checkbox, Listbox, DataGrid, Layout panels and
more. This release also brings built-in support for WS-*, SOAP, ATOM,
JSON, REST, POX, RSS and other standard HTTP services. Essentially, one
can build a full fledged .NET client application and release it to the
world on the web! The users will execute that inside their browser!
other web application. Silverlight SDK and Visual Studio Express
editions are free downloads. Of course, the development has to be done
on a Windows platform. Development on Linux can be done using Moonlight,
which is an open source implementation of Silverlight by the Mono.NET
project of Novell. Moonlight is not mature yet, so Linux developers may
have to wait a little.
Hosting: Cost of hosting is same as
any other web application, because Silverlight applications can be
hosted on any web server!, for e.g., in Apache running on Linux.
Silverlight is a client technology and so it doesn’t matter where it is
End-users:The end-users of the applications
should be running a Windows platform. This is not necessarily a cost
limitation, but a reach limitation. But with deep penetration of
Windows in the desktop market, the application will reach a large
number of users. As mentioned above in the development section, users
of Linux desktop can use Moonlight to view the application.
5 on the other hand is pioneered by W3C. If we compare HTML 5 with
Silverlight, especially in the development, hosting and the end-user
departments, it is definitely a lot simpler. HTML web pages can be
developed using a simple text editor on any platform, can be hosted on
any web server and can be viewed on any platform on any browser (i.e.,
after it is released and supported by all the browsers). The
specification is still in draft stage, but packs a lot of UI elements
that are required by the next wave of web applications.
changes being made in HTML 5 are truly revolutionary. HTML 5 brings
many of the above mentioned (in the Silverlight section) controls to
the static web page. In fact, once HTML 5 is implemented, the phrase
“static HTML” might disappear. Some of the new controls are DataGrid,
DateTime data types, Collapsible panels, Drawing Canvas with Shadows,
Video, Audio, AutoComplete for inputs, LocalStorage for in-memory
storage, Database element for persisted storage and WebSocket for
communication with a remote server! This list is indeed amazing. HTML 5
allows us to create a full fledged client application that can run
inside the browser! With the new Database interface, one can create
client applications that store data in the local persisted
applications, though the browser vendors are free to support additional
languages. The look and feel of an HTML 5 web page may also differ a
little based on the browser.
Both Silverlight and HTML 5 enables
the development of rich web applications. We cannot predict how
successful these technologies will be, but we can say that the changes
in HTML 5 indicate that the industry (i.e., every company, including
Google, that is part of the HTML 5 working group) wants to bring the
desktop user experience to the web.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own and do not represent my employer or their views in any way.